Saturday Quiz – November 22, 2014 – answers and discussion

Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you understand the reasoning behind the answers. If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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    Saturday Quiz – November 22, 2014

    Welcome to the Billy Blog Saturday Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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      Friday lay day – freezing in Florence

      Friday lay day sees me in Florence, Italy. The G20 waste of time and real resources meeting in Brisbane is now over and the World leaders have departed or are swanning around Australia on goodwill tours aka trough sampling (as in pig snouts at the). Our conservative government deeply embarrassed itself and its electoral appeal with a petulant display of parochialism. Instead of outlining a vision for the world’s future and Australia’s place in it, our political leadership chose to focus on their internal policy disappointments (that the democratic process here is not allowing them to proceed with – all aimed at attacking the poorest members of our society). At the same time they were vigorously trying to stop climate change discussions featuring on the agenda. Pathetic really. This small-time austerity mindset was perfectly captured by The Shovel this week.
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        UK labour market continues to impoverish its workers

        While a lot of focus is given to the necessary reform of the financial sector – like declaring all financial transactions that do not support the real economy (which is about 97 per cent of the total) illegal, there is also a need to make fundamental changes to the labour market to reverse the neo-liberal incursions that have casualised employment and systematically cut real wages. The labour market degradation over the last 2-3 decades have allowed for the massive redistribution of real national income in most nations away from workers towards profits. That redistributed surplus is, in part, the bounty that the financial markets have used to speculate with and further entrench their power as financial capital. It also is how the top 1 per cent (and the 0.01 per cent) of the income and wealth distributions have gained further at the expense of the rest. Yesterday (November 19, 2014), the British Office of National Statistics released two publications – Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2014 and – Low Pay, 2014 – both of which demonstrated how these trends are alive and well in the British labour market. The British trends are representative.
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          Greece – return to growth demonstrates the role of substantial fiscal deficits

          We had news this week that the annual rate of real GDP growth in Greece is finally positive after two quarters of positive growth. The austerity merchants are out in force congratulating themselves on a victory. Some victory. What the official data doesn’t publish are the long-term implications of the Depression that Greece has been locked in for the last six years. I look at that question in this blog (a little). Further, despite the claims by the European Commission and the lackies that it relies on to spread its distorted economic news that Greece has achieved a primary fiscal surplus, nothing is further from the truth. The fact is that the Greek fiscal deficit expanded considerably last year and despite all the austerity is still pumping public euros into the Greek economy and therefore supporting growth. The slight return to growth is not a victory for fiscal austerity but a demonstration that if large deficits are maintained for long enough growth will eventually rear its head.
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            Japan returns to 1997 – idiocy rules!

            The financial press was ‘surprised’ that Japan had slipped back into recession, which just tells you that their sources don’t know much about how monetary economies operate. Clearly they have had their heads buried in IMF literature, which tells everyone that cutting net public spending will boost growth because the private sector is scared of deficits. This prediction has never worked out in the way the theory claims. It is pure free market ideology with no empirical basis. The other problem is that cutting net public spending when private spending is weak also pushed up the deficit. Back in the real world, Japan believes the IMF myths, hikes sales taxes to reduce its fiscal deficit, and goes back into recession – night follows day, sales tax hikes moderate spending, and spending cuts undermine economic growth. Kindergarten stuff really. Eventually this cult of neo-liberal economics will disappear but in the meantime while all and sundry are partaking in the kool aid, millions will be losing their jobs, poverty rates will rise and the top 10 per cent in the income and wealth distributions will continue to steal ever more real income from the workers.
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              Australian Treasurer unqualified to do his job

              Australia hosted the recent G20 Meeting in Brisbane and showcased our embarrassing political leadership. Leading into the summit, our Prime Minister had said he would “shirt front” Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Instead he met with the Russian and together they cuddled a native animal (Koala). Then at the opening address, our Prime Minister was humiliating when he told the other 19 world leaders how bad Australians were for rejecting his $7 a visit private contribution to doctor consultations as part of his plan to get the fiscal balance back into surplus. A few days after the US-China signed a major carbon reduction pledge and the rest of G20 nations were working to ensure the final statement of the meetings re-affirmed the World’s desire to address climate change, our Prime Minister was telling the World leaders how tough his government was in getting rid of the Carbon Tax and repeating his mantra that Coal was our future. At least, the Australian government’s insistence that climate change not be on the G20 meeting agenda was ignored by the other nations much to the embarrassment of our leaders. These dorks think they are big time. All the proved was how unsophisticated the political leadership in this country is. The Tea Party Republicans in the US make our lot look like fools! The assessment is that our self-trumpetted ‘macho man’ PM came out with sand kicked in his face looked liked “a coward and a weakling” (Source). And if that wasn’t enough we had the ordeal of watching our Treasurer strutting the world stage with the ‘Finance Ministers’ demonstrating how unqualified he is for that important national job.
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                Saturday Quiz – November 15, 2014 – answers and discussion

                Here are the answers with discussion for yesterday’s quiz. The information provided should help you understand the reasoning behind the answers. If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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                  Saturday Quiz – November 15, 2014

                  Welcome to the Billy Blog Saturday Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention over the last seven days. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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                    Friday lay day – troubles in Australian universities

                    Friday lay day – short blog – good – its going to be a very hot day here in Newcastle, NSW today. Today a brief reflection on the latest scandal/crisis to hit the Australian university sector. The Fairfax media this week published the results of their investigation into so-called Essay Mills – Universities in damage control after widespread cheating revealed. It appears that non-English speaking students in our universities have been purchasing tailor written essays from an organisation in Sydney and using them as assessable items to gain progress in their degree programs. What can be done about that?
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